Looking back at Eastern Washington’s history of charging juvenile murderers as adults
SPOKANE, Wash. — Judge Michael Price decided Tuesday that Caleb Sharpe will be charged as an adult. Sharpe admitted to opening fire in a hallway at Freeman High School in 2017. The shooting killed one student and injured three.
Sharpe is one of a handful of young defendants from Eastern Washington either accused or convicted of committing murder as a juvenile.
Murder of Craig Sorger
Jake Eakin and Evan Savoie were just 12-years-old when they killed their classmate in Ephrata in 2003. Craig Sorger was beat with a rock and stabbed to death.
Savoie was tried as an adult and convicted of first-degree murder. He was given a 26-year sentence, which was overturned in 2011. An appeal was filed based on the judge’s decision to restrict parts of the trial to the public. Prosecutors planned for a second trial, but Savoie instead pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison and is still serving time at the Airway Heights Corrections Center.
Eakin was also tried and convicted as an adult. He took a plea deal and admitted to watching Savoie kill Sorger, and not intervening to stop the attack. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was given a 14-year prison sentence. Eakin was given credit for the two years he served while awaiting trial.
A judge ordered he serve time in a juvenile facility until he 18, then be moved to an adult facility. Eakin is now out of jail and, according to his Facebook page, currently lives in the Moses Lake area.
Murder in Moses Lake
Barry Loukaitis was 14-years-old when he shot and killed three people at Frontier Middle School in Moses Lake.
Loukaitis tried to originally tried to plead insanity. He was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder, one court of second-degree murder, one count of first-degree attempted murder and over a dozen counts of aggravated kidnapping. He was tried as an adult and sentenced to two life sentences, with an additional 205 years. He was not given the possibility of parole.
In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled anyone convicted of murder they committed while a juvenile could not receive life terms without parole.
Loukaitis was re-sentenced in 2017 and given 189 years in prison. He is currently being held in the Clallam Bay Corrections Center.
Murder in North Spokane
In 1995, Kennth Comeslast admitted to kiling two young women and injuring another in North Spokane when he was 15-years-old. Comeslast was tried as an adult on all charges. He was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to life without parole.
Comeslast is serving his sentence in the Monroe Correctional Complex.
Future for the Admitted Freeman Shooter
Caleb Sharpe’s declination hearing came to a close Tuesday, nearly two years after the shooting. Judge Price considered eight Kent Factors as he decided how Sharpe will be tried. Those factors are standards for determining whether to try someone as an adult and include:
Seriousness – the seriousness of the alleged offense to the community and whether the protection of the community requires declination;
Manner Committed – whether the alleged offense was committed in an aggressive, violent, premeditated or willful manner;
Persons or Property – whether the alleged offense was against persons or property, greater weight being given to offenses against persons, especially if personal injury results;
Merits – the merit of the complaint (probable cause)
Adult Co-suspect – the desirability of trial and disposition of the entire offense in one court when the juvenile’s associates in the alleged offense are adults;
Sophistication and Maturity – the sophistication and maturity of the juvenile as determined by consideration of his home, environmental situation, emotion attitude and pattern of living;
Offense History and Contacts – the record and previous history of the juvenile, including previous contacts with law enforcement agencies, juvenile courts, prior periods of probation, or prior commitments to juvenile institutions
Prospect for Rehabilitation v. Protection – the prospects for adequate protection of the public and the likelihood of reasonable rehabilitation of the juvenile by the use of procedures, services and facilities currently available to the juvenile court (assuming he is found to have committed the alleged offense)
Throughout the course of the hearing, Sharpe’s defense attorney Bevan Maxey focused on maturity and prospect for rehabilitation. He argued that Sharpe’s neurodevelopment was not on par with where it should have been for someone his age. Maxey also said Sharpe has been held in a juvenile facility since the day of the shooting, has shown progress and should remain there, as it has proven effective thus far.
If convicted, Sharpe could spend his life in jail. If he had been charged as a juvenile, he could have served just a few years.
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